The Silent Battle
Joshua 6; Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 487-498
In God’s family we all work together.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).
Did you ever feel so excited you couldn’t sleep? Or have you ever woken up extra-early on an extra-special day? That’s how it may have been the day that the army of Israel marched for the first time around Jericho.
Long before daybreak the Israelite soldiers and priests arose. After a hurried breakfast, the soldiers dressed for battle. Soon they lined up behind the golden ark of the covenant. Four priests in spotless white robes stood ready to lift the poles of the ark to their shoulders. When Joshua, the leader of Israel, appeared, he encouraged all the people.
“Do not give a war cry,” Joshua directed. “Do not raise your voices. Do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout.” A war cry always helped the soldiers feel brave, and it scared the enemy. But Joshua wanted the soldiers to rely only on God.
Soon the long parade marched away. A small group of armed soldiers led the way. Behind them came seven priests blowing ram’s horn trumpets. Then came four more priests carrying the ark of the covenant. The rest of the army followed.
As the Israelites approached Jericho, they saw that the city gates were tightly closed. Soldiers lined the top of the city walls, their weapons ready. But before reaching the walls, the Israelites turned and began marching around the city. When the priests rested their trumpets for a few minutes, the only sound was the tramp of hundreds of feet.
The Israelite parade marched all the way around Jericho. Then they headed back to camp. The soldiers on the walls lowered their weapons, completely puzzled. What was going on?
The next day the same parade left the Israelite camp and marched toward Jericho. First, soldiers. Then seven priests playing trumpets. Next, priests carrying the ark. And finally, more soldiers. The trumpets blared. The soldiers marched. No one said a word. Each soldier knew that he was helping, just by marching and not saying a word. Again the parade circled the city. Again they marched back to camp, leaving the people in Jericho bewildered. What kind of war was this?
The same parade wound its way around Jericho on the third day. And the fourth day. And the fifth day. And the sixth day. The people locked in the city could hardly stand it.
At sunrise on the seventh day the long parade of soldiers and priests formed once more. They left the Israelite camp and moved toward Jericho. The walls of the great city were again lined with soldiers. The parade circled the city once. But it did not return to camp as it had before. Instead, the soldiers and priests took a second turn around the city. Then they marched around it for the third time.
The Israelite army marched all the way around Jericho four times. Five times. Six times. Seven times. Then the parade stopped. The priests put the trumpets to their lips and sounded a mighty blast.
“Shout!” Joshua commanded. “The Lord has given you the city!” The soldiers threw back their heads and shouted with all their might. That’s when the completely unexpected—the absolutely, positively impossible—happened. With a deafening rumble the walls of Jericho gave way and fell down. The Israelites rushed into Jericho and took the city.
God had given Jericho into Israel’s hands. The victory was God’s, but the Israelites had played their part. They had worked together as Joshua instructed.